Our world is so filled with discourse, have you noticed? There are so many problems in the world. Leaders who are fighting with their own countrymen abounds. Those who proclaim to be religious kill those who don’t agree with their religion nearly every day. Families who are in constant conflict with each other and angry over things that to the outsider seems rather pointless or even silly is seen in our neighborhoods. And yet in the midst of it all I feel a sense of peace and live a very peaceful life. Why is that? Well, my favorite book in the Bible has the answer.
The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives. Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established. The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:1-7, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
I am no super-saint! I am just an older woman who lives a quiet life and I try to be no bother to anyone. But I do believe these words to be true that when we live God’s way and not our own way we live peacefully in whatever corner of the world we may be. Let’s break this down a bit. We humans are for the most part people who love to make plans for our lives. I am a great example of a list-maker and I have many times made plans for each day. I bet you do too. I plan to get up each morning and fix my son breakfast and take him to school and then I plan the rest of my day until time to get my son from school. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I do laundry. Sometimes, although rarely as I get older, I clean house. About three times a week I go and read to my aunt whose eyesight is failing, and to be honest we chat more than I read but we both enjoy the time we have together. I also go shopping to have food for our meals. On most Sundays we go to worship God at our church. I also spend time praying for others and I talk to various people throughout the week. Sounds pretty peaceful doesn’t it? Well, it is a peaceful life here in the middle of Nebraska and I like that about living here. But truth be told, wherever I go I live pretty much at peace with everyone. Just as the scripture passage says above, I make my daily plans and then I ask God to bless my day and faithfully God does.
There is a contrast in this passage though, did you notice? God knows the heart of every person and weighs the motives and some people live in peace with God and some don’t. It all comes down to that one word “motive” and this determines whether we are trying to obey God and asking God for His blessing or whether we are denying God has anything to do with our plans. When I was young I never thought much about asking God to bless my plans in life. I was far too busy to even think of such an old fuddy-duddy idea. I saw my Grandmothers ask God to bless their day with good things and I thought it was something for the elderly to do. I wanted freedom to make my own decisions and choices and I did so too. I choose to move away from my parents’ home shortly after I graduated from high school and I moved to a small apartment in a neighboring town. No longer did I have to answer to why I wasn’t home by ten at night or where I was going and when I would be back or why I was going there in the first place! I made my own choices and lived by the consequences of those choices, good or bad. I got out of the habit of going to church too and slept in on Sunday mornings. But God has a sense of humor and I found out that on the next block to my apartment was a little white church that had the habit of ringing the bells to let the neighborhood know it was time for the service to start. That made me feel so guilty that it wasn’t long and I was back into church on Sunday mornings. I know that my examples of backsliding are not all that bad but that is because I want to serve and obey God. I want to worship Him and I want His blessing on my life. Notice, however, the description of the person who doesn’t want to worship or obey or serve God?
The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. This sentence troubles me because I have always believed that God would never create anything or be capable of doing anything evil. And yet this passage is in the Bible. I want to look at other translations to see if this translation is correct.
The LORD works out everything to its proper end– even the wicked for a day of disaster. Proverbs 16:4, (New International Version).
The LORD has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster. Proverbs 16:4, (New Living Translation).
The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Proverbs 16:4, (English Standard Version).
The LORD has prepared everything for His purpose– even the wicked for the day of disaster. Proverbs 16:4, (Holman Christian Standard Bible).
All the works of Lord Jehovah are for those that submit to him, and the evil are kept for the day of evil. Proverbs 16:4 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English).
Now we can see that the meaning of this verse is not that God made evil people to do evil deeds rather God allows them to live. God allows evil to exist for a purpose and that is to impact our lives while we are here on earth. God allows bad things to happen because of the evil that exists but God also has a plan to end evil and when it is the right time to do so God will begin that process through judging every person on earth. What is the standard for judging us? That we love God? That we are a good person? That we hate evil? Well, while that may all be true of us who will be saved from judgement it is not why we will be saved.
Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)—you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. “And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. Acts 10:34-48, (NASB).
You see we will be saved from judgement because we are living at peace with God because we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is God’s only Son who came to save all people who are willing to believe in Him and in His birth, death, burial, and resurrection. We may go through many things in life, some good things and some not so good things. We can count on one promise and that is we will live in peace with our enemies because God will make it happen just as the passage in Proverbs promises. Why? Because our ways of living our life is pleasing to God! I love that, don’t you?